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Exterior Paint Job Part 1: Summer of ’17: Shave, Sand, Wash, Stain

I usually appreciate textured surfaces, and the occasional chippy paint. And I love an “old wall” look. But I don’t love it when it looks like this on my house:

Peeling Paint on Cedar Siding

Peeling Exterior Paint

Twice in the past 13 years, we paid contractors to scrape and paint our cedar-sided house. But they scraped pretty much half-heartedly, kind of just barely. It’s not a fun job, for sure. Now we’re doing the job. On all 3,000 sq ft of siding.

Removing Paint from Cedar Siding

Scraping Paint from Cedar Siding

Shave. Sand. Wash. Stain.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

For 3 months of summer days and evenings!

Why????!!

We HAVE to. Because when you’re up close, it looks like we have the haunted house on the block. And beyond the looks, the siding and house are not well protected from the elements.

Some neighbors warned us, don’t do it yourselves!! Replace the siding instead! It’s easier! Yeah and it’s really expensive. And there isn’t much wrong with the cedar. Sure there are a few rotten areas and some woodpecker holes. But they can be easily fixed with epoxy and rot terminator, or replaced. Our house is nearly 50 years old. I might think that 50-year-old cedar is better than today’s new cedar?

We talked with several contractors about doing this full job of scraping all wood down to raw wood. Some wouldn’t even do it. Others quoted way more than we can pay for the entire job, especially after we’ve already paid twice for re-painting.

So, we’re doing it.

PaintShaver Pro on Cedar Siding

Removing Exterior Paint from Cedar Siding

Removing Exterior Paint with PaintShaver Pro

Shade Seekers

We live near Chicago, so we’re in a race against the weather. We have to finish before snow flies. But seeing that it’s 95 degrees on September 23 — thus I’m indoors writing a blog post at high noon and not scraping, sanding etc. outdoors — maybe we’ll have more time than we think.

Here’s a video from this morning. We have to organize our days around the sun, so we work as much as possible in the shade. For awhile, the wall over our garage was shaded:

So, this blog has been quiet for a long time because I’ve been very busy. I’ve been busy since spring on this project. It started with researching everything we’re doing, and then actually doing it. I don’t know how bloggers who do serious big-time renovations can do the work AND edit the photos AND write about it. I’ve been physically and mentally exhausted after days of this work! But I will say, this also feels like good healthy work for the body.

I spent 25+ years sitting at computers in offices all day, every day. Research shows that much sitting is terrible for our health, and people die earlier because of all the sitting. My arms and legs and many muscles have been under-used for YEARS. Sometimes when I stood up after long stretches of working at a desk, my legs felt like floppy Kermit the Frog legs! Well they’re getting used now! This is hard work, and I do complain about the aches and pains, but I overall feel better. I’m taking a “gap year” of sorts from my career this year, so I have the time to do this all day. As the days go on, the work gets easier and I know I’m getting stronger. I am choosing to look at the bright side of this work.

Some positives of this project include design changes we’re making to the house. Of course you know I love opportunity for that!

  • I’m changing all the white on trim, windows, doors with a warm gray.
  • New shutters! Real functional shutter hardware with wood framed board and batten style shutters. And, shutters properly sized for the windows. The real deal.
  • It’s hard to see lights in the photo above, but we’re replacing porch and garage lights. From cheap traditional colonial lights, to bigger “modern industrial farmhouse” trendier lights. With motion sensing, so every time deer, raccoon, skunk, fox and coyote walk by at night, I can freak out and think it’s a burglar.
  • We’re adding a big walkway from the driveway to the porch. I am pining for bluestone but we’ll likely do pavers with a bluestone look.
  • Next spring, more of a garden in the front. In order to use the scaffolding, we chopped down a bland row of evergreen bushes that ran along the front of the porch. Before spring, I’ll be researching shrubs with four-season interest.
  • I think we’ll run out of time this year, so likely next spring we’ll add stone veneer along the bottom half of the sunroom that’s on the back of the house. And eventually a patio will be added to wrap around the sunroom.

Future Blog Posts

I’ll follow-up later with more posts about this big exterior paint project:

  • Product review – the Paintshaver Pro from American International Tool. This tool is a dream come true and makes this job possible. You can see my husband using it in the video above. I’ll do a whole post about the tool.
  • There are color and design decisions to share — not just a show n’ tell but the reasons and why’s behind the decisions.
  • Stain vs Paint. We’re staining this time, with Sherwin Williams Woodscapes in a solid color stain.
  • DIY shutters and functional shutter hardware. I still have to make samples of the shutters. There’s more than 30 shutters to make. I am more of a “one & done” DIY’er, not a production person, so I honestly think making all those shutters will be more painful than this exterior paint job!
  • Some safety tips. Some people might say we’re going overboard – we’re renting a big boom lift for the highest parts of the house next week, instead of rigging up DIY things to get higher up. I worked in safety for decades, and I’ve worked in a trauma center and seen first-hand what can happen to people. So I’m cautious. Not overly-scared because I’m up there on the roof too, but cautious. So I’ll have some things to say about fall prevention and the importance of investing in safety.

So this was a quick update for now, more later!

EDITED TO ADD: Ha, so you know how I said above that it’s hard to do this work AND also blog about it. Well I wrote this on Sept 23 and finally posting late on Sept 27. Meanwhile we got this big blue boy delivered and we have it for a week, so every day our paint shaving is taken to new heights! :)

Boom Lift for Exterior Paint Job

 



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Be Brave: Mix Lots of Patterns

I’m always dreaming of what to do next in our little apartment in Chennai, India. It’s functional but not “finished.” What finishes it? Layers! Layers of patterns, layers of colors, layers of textures.

Because we have to take things for the apartment in suitcases on an airplane, or try to use our time as efficiently as possible in India, and find things in India, I plan in advance. I do mock-ups in Photoshop to see how it will look. One area I’m playing with is the living room sofa area, and the wall behind the sofa.

Juju hat India apartment

I have those five pillows waiting to go to India. So I’m moving toward a color palette of neutral tones with dark browns and black. As I’ve written about here previously, India isn’t easy for me. The heat, the traffic, the loudness — it might be exciting at first but it does wear me down after awhile. So I’m shooting for a soothing atmosphere in our apartment. And to me, that means neutrals.

So how do you punch up the interest with neutral colors? Patterns!

You can see I mixed patterns with the pillows and rug. I really want a large zig zag basket from The Baba Tree Basket Company. The zig zag lines balance out all the curving lines in the other patterns.

I run out of steam for the wall though. I thought about finding a juju hat for texture, stick it on the wall against a painted block of color, and call it a day. Super fast and easy wall decorating. Use the extra time to go to an ayervedic spa.

But I got restless, thinking that isn’t ENOUGH. But what to do? I love arches and India is full of Mughal arches. I’d love to find a set of carved wood arches. Install them on the wall. And paint patterns in the arches, maybe with big Modello stencils like this one, shown in the mock-up below. What you’d get is this:

India Apartment Living Room

Ah. That feels right. Regal. Worthy of all the pattern that you can find in India! I may be on the hunt for carved wood arches!

I forget where I found these arches — I “shopped” online and forgot to make note of the source, but it was a single arch that I copied to make three in Photoshop.

If you want some inspiration for mixing lots of prints and patterns, visit my Pinterest board about mixing patterns. I’ve been debating how to give advice on mixing patterns. I put things together until they look pleasing to me (and I know what’s pleasing to me might not work for everyone!), like this patchwork pillow I made for our India apartment:

Finished Patchwork Pillow

But I’ve never put the process of how I mix patterns into words or conscious, planful thoughts. It might be interesting to try to get it all out of my mind, onto paper. I’m working on it!



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Don’t Read My Blog While Driving

Do you think that’s a crazy headline? Who would do that? Well someone has! Someone recently commented and said she read one of my blog posts on her phone, while sitting at a red light.

What?! It’s just design, decorating and paint here. It’s not that important. I am happy you are reading here! But please visit while sitting in a chair, couch or bed. Please don’t read while sitting in a car, even at a red light.

You may know me here as a decorating and DIY blogger. But this blog is not my job. My full-time job is … guess it! … preventing distracted driving! I work on preventing distraction from technology like our cell phones and dashboard infotainment systems. I’ve worked on traffic safety for 20+ years and distracted driving for the past 7 years. I’ve reviewed about 600 fatal and serious injury crashes involving cell phones. These crashes really do happen. A lot. So I was shocked to see someone read my blog while driving.

This month, April, is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Nearly everyone knows it’s dangerous to use phones while driving.* So why do people still do it? A lot of people think it won’t happen to them.

And a lot of us are trying to squeeze things in while driving because we’re too busy. We brag about our busy-ness. “How are you?” “Oh, soooo busy!” You know how that conversation goes!

Personally I love that my car is an escape. It’s an escape from the electronic communications coming at me 24/7 from my phone, computers and TV. Research shows listening to music is not very distracting to us (as long as you’re not lip-syncing on video while driving like Sam and Nia, don’t even get me started!) and if music helps you be less stressed or bored while driving, that’s good. I have great speakers and an amplifier in my car and it sounds like a concert hall. It makes driving easier. I protect my time in the car as time to re-charge my energy. It’s a time to take a break from all the communicating.

Why not “Take Back Your Drive” this month? Put the phone away and just drive. Drive more peacefully. Try it for 30 days. You may find there are benefits to that! A lot of skeptical people try it, then find they’re more rested, creative ideas pop in their minds, and if you’re driving with children, it’s a time to connect as family.

If you try it, I’d love to hear how it went, but please don’t comment while driving! ;)

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* Nearly everyone knows texting while driving is dangerous. Most people still don’t know that hands-free talking and voice control features are distracting! If you’re curious, click here to learn more about all that.

 



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